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Improving our 300 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST!

The Judge

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We've got on well with our "Improving..." thread for the 75 worders, so here's one for our 300 Word Challenge Stories.

As before it's here in Writing Challenges, rather than in Critiques, as this way we can keep it more as an exercise and encourage people to participate. We've coped successfully with having multiple pieces and critiques on the one thread, so I'm hopeful we can manage just as well with this one, even though each story will be longer. We can always make adjustments if it gets too unwieldy.

Some important points for those new to "Improving..." or who never got around to reading the first post in the other thread:

1) Only give feedback on those stories which have been raised here by their authors -- this is NOT intended as a free-for-all criticism of all the stories. Just because you want to comment on a piece doesn't mean the author wants to hear your comments.
2) This is only for stories which have been posted in the quarterly 300 Word Challenges and where voting has finished. (If a tie-break is in operation those in the tie-break should wait for that voting to end, too.)
3) The Discussion thread is still for general discussion and whimsy -- let's keep this to feedback.
4) As with all critiques/comments, constructive ideas only, please. This is aimed at helping all of us, not knocking anyone down.


NB As before, if someone wants to put a story up in Critiques rather than here, that is still an option.
 

Jo Zebedee

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I don't have an alternate version, but a history and a consideration of wider application.

Firstly, MacNeice's graveyard (not where he's buried, that's in a different town) is in my home town, its reasonably well known, and the statues looking over his garden and the mausoleum are all there; they haunted him as a boy. His mother was taken from him when he was about 5, she was ill, I think mentally, and he wrote a really haunting poem about it with the line, "Come back early or never come at all" as the refrain which kind of stuck with me. (I would have put it in but wasn't sure where I stood on plagiarism so decided to be careful.)

So, I like his poetry and wanted to do something about the graveyard as a place of pilgrimage, maybe the only one in the town since the council, in their wisdom, allowed the vicarage he'd lived in be knocked down when I was a kid; I still haven't quite got over that, actually. The time travel element allowed me to use the vicarage which was quite nice.

What I am thinking about, and was before the challenge's very convenient image came up was a wider application about how snow is there in Ulster's culture, at least to me, and some at least are connected to MacNeice and the poem - I'm not sure about Snow Patrol, but I've often wondered; they're from near where he's buried. Some of these are directly linked to MacNeice, others may not be, but I kind of wanted to do a piece on it.

The time travel was only put in for this version to give the sci fi theme but I would like to get the sense of it into another piece for a wider market.

Not sure where I'm going with this rambling account, but basically I'm asking myself where I could take this, if there's a nice ghost story in it, or something more mainstream, especially as it seemed to be received well.
 

HareBrain

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This is from the first challenge (photo: the Prague clock) and from time to time I've thought of putting it up in Critiques but never got round to it. It did pretty badly and I've often wondered why. Is it hard to understand? Too much going on?

***************

Pavel and the Horologue


‘Fear the man with the mirror.’

Crouching behind the barricade, rifle clutched in sweating hands more used to schoolbooks, Pavel found his eyes drawn again to the Orloj, his mind to his grandfather’s deathbed.

‘They’re coming,’ said Gregor beside him. ‘The Americans shafted us.’

‘Fear the stealer of all we have.’ Yellowed eyes shone delirious with some terrible secret. ‘Fear the Jew and the Turk, not for themselves but the hate that carved them. But most, fear the mirror-man.’

Clanking its tracks, the Jagdpanther emerged from Jilska Street. Gregor and others readied petrol bombs, waiting for range.

‘Mikulanus cursed the city, and the world. Some say he was elohim. The Orloj does not measure, it governs.’

The tank-commander’s head showed. Pavel gasped: ‘I can get him.’

He stood, aimed. A gun flashed — the punch flung him backwards onto pavement, lying breathless, staring at the Orloj.

The Jew and the Turk looked away. The skeleton stepped down, striking his chimes. But the mirror-man —

The mirror-man saw only himself. Pavel understood. Shaken by bullet-shock, he struggled to kneel, deafened by cries and gunfire, the nearness of the tank, the bursting of flames. Vision misted: the square was covered in blood, of Jews murdered in progroms, of rebels beheaded, and around him were other tanks, not German but marked with the red star, and students dying.

The man with the mirror. Mikulanus’s curse, forever.

Near-fainting, Pavel sighted his rifle. The skeleton neared; the tank roared.

He shot. The mirror broke from the man’s hand.

‘Look!’ shrieked Pavel. ‘Look at your world!’

The man’s eyes widened, horrified. Then he pulled another mirror from within his robe, and his calm expression returned. Pavel blinked, and saw he had missed.

The skeleton’s hand took his. The tank ground on.
 

The Judge

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springs: I thought it was a very interesting piece, which is why it was on my short list. I liked the use of first person, making it a personal voyage to someone whom the narrator admired but for whom she/you felt sorry. I didn't know his history, but I guessed that his mother was probably mentally ill, so that was well-written.

I'm not well-versed in MacNeice's work so I can't help with wider thoughts, but yes, do try and make something larger of it. Re the idea of snow and Ireland, I read a modern book a year or two back (OK, more like 5 probably) which was a set of interconnecting short stories with snow as a linking motif, which I'm sure was set there. Can't recall its title off the top of my head.

Anyway, the I don't have an alternate version of your opening line -- you don't have to have an alternative story, if that's what you think. This is just for getting feedback on the story you did post, with a view to understanding why people did or didn't vote for it, or what they liked/didn't understand.


EDIT: HareBrain you sneaked in while I was writing to springs. As you know, I loved the story, and I'm at a loss why others didn't fall over themselves to vote for it.
 
Last edited:

nixie

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Well I feel I need some serious help with my last entry. Never even merited a mention. Be as brutal as you like.


In a corner of the churchyard stands a statue, now covered in cobwebs, hasn’t been cleaned in years. The inscription underneath reads, the little angel, artist unknown, I used to clean her but I can’t do it now. The wings haven’t always been there, the old vicar arranged for them to be added.
The real story behind the statue was covered up, not many of us left who know where she really came from and even then it is dismissed as a myth but I know I was there.

Seventy three years ago I and three friends decided to go an adventure, to explore the countryside around us. We wandered all day, picking berries, paddling in the stream. It was wonderful, we knew that we shouldn’t have gone, that we would be punished for our actions but we didn’t care.
An hour before dusk we were playing on a hill near a river, running around screaming at the top of our voices, we even rolled down the grassy slope. Not very lady like but we were young and felt free.
It was then we heard a strange cry and the flapping of wings, louder than we had ever heard before.
We hid and covered our eyes, terrified of what was approaching. I saw Beth stand up and called to her to hide but I didn’t look to see if she obeyed. We cowered frightened to move for a long time after the creature had gone. When we dared to open our eyes Beth had gone.

The official story was she fell into the river and drowned, but I know that’s not true, yes Beth had gone but in her place stood a statue. She had looked into the eyes of a cockatrice.
 

The Judge

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Re the idea of snow and Ireland, I read a modern book a year or two back (OK, more like 5 probably) which was a set of interconnecting short stories with snow as a linking motif, which I'm sure was set there. Can't recall its title off the top of my head.
Found it! The Big Snow by David Park -- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-big-snow-by-david-park-663442.html


nixie -- I wonder if the fact it was told as a reminiscence detracted from it as a story? If the central section had involved a flashback, with us seeing the action as it happened, rather than simple narration, that might perhaps have given it a little more energy and life. And for my taste the ending came out of nowhere, so it devalued the story as a whole -- we've not been told of a basilisk haunting the place, and so it seems somewhat contrived, I think. It's like a twist ending -- it's vital to have given all the clues to the twist but written in such a way as to mislead.
 

Jo Zebedee

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Thanks TJ, I'll hunt that one out.

HB, I liked the story, found it gripping, but wasn't here for the comp so don't know what the others were like. :eek:

Nixie; I remember reading this and the end paragraph and the mythical imagery sticking in my mind. I think what made it a little difficult was the punctuation, and I think that was because the story was being told in a breathless, quick voice which was hard to apply norms to so eg. with "I know I was there", I would have found "I know; I was there" easier to follow, but this perhaps makes the voice too mature for the story.
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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I thought I was close to a vote with my entry, but I feel I could have improved upon it had I been able to put in what I intended to-a creepier atmosphere, more of a supernatural aspect to it. Demonic possession, specifically, a succubus.
 

hopewrites

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This is from the first challenge (photo: the Prague clock) and from time to time I've thought of putting it up in Critiques but never got round to it. It did pretty badly and I've often wondered why. Is it hard to understand? Too much going on?

***************
On the second read through I understood how you had voiced it, that the italics are the grandfathers words echoing in Pavel's mind. I liked the ending and the depressing air of futility with which you closed this piece.
There is a lot that is mentioned that needs knowledge of the historical background to fully comprehend, I understand that if you had more words to work with you could have made these things more clear (indecently Spring that was the only thing that kept me from loving your entry, so yes giving more background on the poet you admire would make the story you started better, and you could easily run with it as is; just make it longer). So the short answer to your question is "yes" because without historical back up your story is unclear, and without clarity there is "too much" going on.
Personally i dont think there is too much going on if the Orloj and the Stared Tanks are clearly understood by the reader, if the horror of Pogroms is fresh in the mind... The only detractant from your piece is that it relies heavily on the readers knowledge of what went on. Otherwise it is emotionally charged, well voiced, concise, and [most importantly] tells a good story.
 

hopewrites

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Well I feel I need some serious help with my last entry. Never even merited a mention. Be as brutal as you like.


In a corner of the churchyard stands a statue, now covered in cobwebs, hasn’t been cleaned in years. The inscription underneath reads, the little angel, artist unknown, I used to clean her but I can’t do it now. The wings haven’t always been there, the old vicar arranged for them to be added.
The real story behind the statue was covered up, not many of us left who know where she really came from and even then it is dismissed as a myth but I know I was there.
The beginning tells me this is going to be a story about how the statue used to be the narrators friend and that they are indignant about not being believed. It has the feel of a story told in a pub or by a camp fire about someone who was victimized by Big Foot or eaten by the Loch Ness Monster. So your narrator starts out with less credibility then necessary for the story to be remembered, not a bad thing if that is what you are going for.
Seventy three years ago ... we would be punished for our actions but we didn’t care.
I imaging a group of youngsters with this mentality to be in their tweens which makes the narrator 90+. Having talked to people of that age I had a hard time reconciling the narrative voice and the narrators age. Even people whose minds are "wandering back", as I have often read it described, and of whom your narrator is clearly not, unconsciously utilize a real-age appropriate narrative voice when actively reliving their past (I worked in an adult care facility for a while so, granted, my experience is limited to less then 50 individuals, and I am willing to be corrected, I am confidant enough in my experience to make this assertion). Again you lose reader sympathy for the narrator when they declare that they "don't care" about what the punishment will be. For me, this honor binds you to make the punishment fair and equitable, or outrageously cruel.
Not very lady like but we were young and felt free.
This is the first real indication of your narrators gender, it came too late in the story for me. I had firmly established him as male (possible in love with Beth), and had to quickly readjust my opinion.
We hid and covered our eyes... I saw Beth stand up ... I didn’t look to see if she obeyed.
I found it difficult to imagine your narrators contradictory account of herself, at which point she lost the last of the credibility I could scrape together for her, much to my dismay.
The official story was she fell into the river and drowned, but I know that’s not true, yes Beth had gone but in her place stood a statue. She had looked into the eyes of a cockatrice.
I liked the finish, I liked that you chose a cockatrice rather then a basilisk because it kept the mystery when you had flapping wings and unearthly calls. I was genuinely remorseful that I could not believe your narrator, I wanted to love your story because the kernel of it was so inventive, and the twist at the end would have made me smile if only I could have believed it.
I hope this was not too harsh, or that it sounds as though I didn't enjoy your story, because I did.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Harebrain, although I can make out the history for the most part (I think), I had a hard time following your story with all the names, and it took a while to sort out the italics and figure out what was going on. I liked it enough to keep trying to understand, but I had to give up. Sorry about that.

Nixie, I generally always like your stories, as I did this one, but the punctuation is a huge barrier for me. There are many places where you have two or even three sentences run together with commas, which could use a semi-colon or be split into separate sentences altogether. It really comes down to the polishing with these compact stories, and it's hard for me to get past things like that. However, I did like your story.
 

HareBrain

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Thanks for the comments, TJ, Hope and TDZ. It clearly wasn't obvious enough whose was the italicised voice, and I was way too ambitious in trying to get as much stuff into 300 words as into four dense 75-word challenges. My other mistake was to hope that everyone else would have read the same wiki history of Prague when doing research for their own stories. :D

In case anyone's wondering, the story takes place during the May 1945 uprising against the Germans, and after being shot Pavel glimpses other bloody happenings in the town square, both past (pogroms and execution of rebels) and future (hence the Soviet tanks from the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968).

Could have done with another 300 words really ...
 

Ökuþórr

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So, might as well post in here and see what you all thought or if you have any tips for improving for future 300 word challenges (was my first 300 challenge). I got 2 votes so I know someone liked it.:D

Was going to put it in spoiler tags, but it just turns the writing white.


[FONT=&quot]

When Angels Fall.[/FONT]


[FONT=&quot]“Man flees and man hides, man fights and man dies, blood flows when Angels fall.” I said it aloud; don’t know why since there’s nobody around to hear, especially not in this place. We’ve all heard it before, from our parents and grandparents; some old saying from a time shortly after the sky cracked and the Angels descended, driving us from our towns and cities, slaughtering. “Be glad for the dead, pity those left to suffer.” Father used to tell me these things before I went to bed. I snorted. Exactly what a child wants to hear before he goes to sleep.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]
I let out a yawn and my stomach grumbled. Should’ve packed more food. I stood slowly, slinging my pack and sword over my shoulder and picking up my rifle. Not the best weapon against Angels since bullets don’t kill them, but they sure as hell do shred their wings. Well, the Archs anyway; the Seraphs six wings move way to fast.
I turned and took one last look at the statue I’d been resting against. An Angel, female, worn but beautiful. It marked an old grave; there were hundreds of them here. My grandmother told me people used to believe Angels watched over them, believed they were beings of light, protectors, that’s why they were used on graves. “Yeah, light that can blind and sear flesh from bone.” I used to say. “Fools” I’d called them. I remember she would berate me for it. “Lack of knowledge doesn’t make one a fool boy. Having that knowledge and ignoring it makes the fool. That our ancestors were wrong, that they didn’t know, doesn’t make them stupid.” I sighed smiling and scanned the graveyard, every Angel. So peaceful. “Maybe all the good ones turned to stone, cursed by their cousins.”
[/FONT]
 

TheDustyZebra

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To start with, and in case I don't get back when I have more time, that first line is really terrific. It sounds like a forgotten piece of the "demons run when a good man goes to war" poem from Doctor Who.
 

hopewrites

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I enjoy each challenge I participate in more and more. I like learning from what I create. I know that I have a lot to learn grammatically (so if i could get a grammar check on this with explanations that would be appreciated) but I would also like to hone my story telling skills as well. I feel the opening line sets the tone which is why i left it in, but i dont know if it fits with the rest. I dont know if i over emphasize on the descriptions thereby undertelling the story. and i dont know if my ending is clear.​


thanks​


Time
The great changer, the mover and shaper of our universe.
A soft spring breeze danced tendrils of my, then, raven hair ticklingly beside my cheek. Flowers dappled the ground and air with their fragrant rejoicing in the season. Laughter rang over our little corner of the world, skipping down the lanes and sneaking into the hearts of those too old to participate in such revelry. Life was perfect.
God and Time conspire against perfection in mortals I think.
Sitting as I often did this time of year on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved. The bright sun caressing my back while I worked, I could almost wish the day would last forever.
Gretchen was muddying up her new boots, while Anna scolded jealously at such wonton delight. Peter was just coming back with his father when it happened. A flash of thunder and a bolt of pain and our idyllic world collapsed. Too fast to give warning, too sudden to intervene, I remained frozen in place. Flash again and 3rd and a 4th time, all those I loved were stolen beyond my reach, my heart rendered to pieces. Immobilized by the suddenness of the attack, the beauty of the day now so incongrutous with the turmoil in my soul.
Silence is my punishment for silence. Turned to stone by a pain too great to bear, and left to witness times dance across all I once knew. Meadows turned to forests, Pastures to row houses. Villages swell and are striped of inhabitants. All under my watchful care, all beyond my reach.
Time can be so cruel. Time does not cure all wounds, centuries later my pain is as fresh as it was that distant spring day.
 

Jo Zebedee

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I enjoy each challenge I participate in more and more. I like learning from what I create. I know that I have a lot to learn grammatically (so if i could get a grammar check on this with explanations that would be appreciated) but I would also like to hone my story telling skills as well. I feel the opening line sets the tone which is why i left it in, but i dont know if it fits with the rest. I dont know if i over emphasize on the descriptions thereby undertelling the story. and i dont know if my ending is clear.​





thanks




Time

The great changer, the mover and shaper of our universe.I liked the opening line;it set a nice concise picture.

A soft spring breeze danced tendrils of my, then, raven hair ticklingly beside my cheek. Flowers dappled the ground and air with their fragrant rejoicing in the season. Laughter rang over our little corner of the world, skipping down the lanes and sneaking into the hearts of those too old to participate in such revelry. Life was perfect. Greater people than me will know why, I'm sure, but somehow the punctuation the first line seemed out; should it have been a - either side of "then"? Not sure. Also "ticklingly" : I wonder did you reduce this from something longer to reduce the word count to fit? You say life was perfect, but it all sounded a little sinister to me and my rather darker mind.

God and Time conspire against perfection in mortals I think.Why? If you think it, there must be a reason, otherwise it's a cliche.

Sitting as I often did this time of year on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved. The bright sun caressing my back while I worked, I could almost wish the day would last forever. The first line didn't entirely make sense to me. Should it have been one sentence? eg "Sitting on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved as I often did at this time of year, I almost wished the day would last forever." The worked comment seems out of place; are they sitting on the lawn or woking?

Gretchen was muddying up her new boots, while Anna scolded jealously at such wonton delight. I would take a new paragraph here; it seems to move onto a different action.Peter was just coming back with his father when it happened; seems to be two sentences linked. A flash of thunder and a bolt of pain and our idyllic world collapsed. Too fast to give warning, too sudden to intervene, I remained frozen in place.

Flash again and a 3rd and a 4th time,and then all those I loved were stolen beyond my reach, my heart rendered to pieces.two my's, maybe lose the 1st. Immobilized by the suddenness of the attack, the beauty of the day now so incongrutous incongruitious? bugger to spell, I might be wrong. with the turmoil in my soul.

Silence is my punishment for silence.I assumed the repetition was meant, and found it moving. Turned to stone by a pain too great to bear, and left to witness times dance across all I once knew. I wasn't sure what this sentence meant. Meadows turned to forests, Pastures to row houses. again, not sure what row houses are, or was this pastures to rows of houses? Villages swell and are stripped of inhabitants. All under my watchful care, all beyond my reach.

Time can be so cruel. Time does not cure all wounds, centuries later my pain is as fresh as it was that distant spring day.Nice ending to tie up to the first line.
Hi Hope, no grammar expert, me, but I put in what I might have used instead; Chrispy might have a field day here, a double query:) I thought the story was good, enjoyed it first time i read it, but where I was confused/not sure see above.
 

hopewrites

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Also "ticklingly" : I wonder did you reduce this from something longer to reduce the word count to fit?
No, I couldn’t find a better way to describe the soft shifting of hair on check in a tiny breeze that isn’t felt in any other way. Also wanted it to have a pleasant ring to it and had already used “dancing”.
You say life was perfect, but it all sounded a little sinister to me and my rather darker mind.
Oh good!! Wanted to get that effect where you don’t trust the idyllic nature of the seen before you, the kind of foreshading that they do in movies by slipping in the “on no” music softly under the “ah this is nice” music. Blending them in the score so that you become fidgety and tense in your chair and wonder “why do I feel like something bad is going to happen everything is so nice”
Why? If you think it, there must be a reason, otherwise it's a cliche.
My narrator does think it, but I didn’t do a good enough showing it if you are asking. The day was perfect then “God” snatched away her family and “Time” tormented her in her stone tomb. Thus ending what little perfection those mortals had achieved for themselves.
The first line didn't entirely make sense to me. Should it have been one sentence? eg "Sitting on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved as I often did at this time of year, I almost wished the day would last forever." The worked comment seems out of place; are they sitting on the lawn or working?
Both. She is sitting on the lawn doing needle work, or shelling peas I never did decide, but some kind of little homey task that can easily be done while watching over children and enjoying the sunshine. Her wish is supposed to foreshadow her doom. I do like the way you restructured the two sentences together because it flows better.
I assumed the repetition was meant, and found it moving.
Thank you, I agonized over it because I hate to use repetition in my work but this time it made it so poignant that I had to get over my dislike and leave it be.
I wasn't sure what this sentence meant.
I see it is confusing to start literal and then say something figurative. The pain of seeing her family die before her eyes turned her to stone, she became the statue in the photo in that instant. She was then stuck in that pain and that moment of her life as all the world changed about her. Everything she knew, the people, the place, the earth itself changed around her leaving her entombed in sameness. I should have made it two sentences.
again, not sure what row houses are, or was this pastures to rows of houses?
Rows of houses would work but rowhouses (maybe its one word) sounded more urban to me. I think they are called just condo’s now but that sounds too upper class and too modern for a woman who has been entombed in stone for ages.

Thank you for the critique, very helpful.
 

chrispenycate

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[/quote]
I enjoy each challenge I participate in more and more. I like learning from what I create. I know that I have a lot to learn grammatically (so if i could get a grammar check on this with explanations that would be appreciated) but I would also like to hone my story telling skills as well. I feel the opening line sets the tone which is why i left it in, but i dont know if it fits with the rest. I dont know if i over emphasize on the descriptions thereby undertelling the story. and i dont know if my ending is clear.




thanks




Time
The great changer, the mover and shaper of our universe.
A soft spring breeze danced tendrils of my, then,
Move comma after “raven“
raven hair ticklingly beside my cheek. Flowers dappled the ground and air with their fragrant rejoicing in the season. Laughter rang over our little corner of the world, skipping down the lanes and sneaking into the hearts of those too old to participate in such revelry. Life was perfect.

God and Time conspire against perfection in mortals
Comma
I think.

Sitting
Comma
as I often did this time of year
Comma
on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved.
Fragment (no transient verb
The bright sun caressing my back while I worked,
Needs a "With" or something before the "the bright sun", otherwise the two halves of the sentence are completely disconnected.
I could almost wish the day would last forever.

Gretchen was muddying up her new boots, while Anna scolded jealously at such wonton
wanton (the other's a noodle)
Maybe it's American, but "Gretchen" (German diminutive of Margaret) and "Peter" don't fit into the same family naming traditions, for me. Probably only me, though.
Peter was just coming back with his father when it happened. A flash of thunder
thunder can't flash, that's lightning. It claps, or rolls, or – well, sound things, not light. And the "and" here. Rather than put two "ands in sequence, replace this one with a comma (and you've gained a precious word, too)
and a bolt of pain and our idyllic world collapsed. Too fast to give warning, too sudden to intervene, I
As constructed the "too fast to" sections both relate to the subject of the sentence, the "I", which (I suspect) is not what you intended.
remained frozen in place. Flash again and 3rd
For low value numbers, write out the "third" and "fourth" rather than contracting them; it is less likely to throw the reader out of the flow.
and a 4th time,
Comma splice (probably semicolon)
all those I loved were stolen beyond my reach, my heart rendered
"To render" (to give up, pass over) is not the verb I would have chosen here. I suspect you wanted the verb "to rend" to tear asunder, which would make the past participle "rent"
to pieces. Immobilized by the suddenness of the attack, the beauty of the day now so incongrutous
incongruous?
with the turmoil in my soul.
This, despite its length, is a fragment, and quite a confusing one. What is immobilised? The beauty of the day (as written)? Your soul?
Silence is my punishment for silence. Turned to stone by a pain too great to bear, and left to witness times
I assume time's
dance across all I once knew. Meadows turned to forests,
No uppercase (capital) "p"
Pastures to row houses. Villages swell and are
Why just this point in present tense? Not grammatically wrong, but difficult to explain within the sequence of everything happening in the past.
Probably "stripped"
of inhabitants. All under my watchful care, all beyond my reach.

Time can be so cruel. Time does not cure all wounds,
Comma splice. Semicolon?
centuries later my pain is as fresh as it was that distant spring day.
 

hopewrites

Character Nerd
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"Sitting, as I often did that time of year, on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved." Isn't that too many commas? Would it be better to rearrange it so that there are not so many pauses? Or am I reading it as a vocalists and not a reader (we breath at commas and that seems like a hyperventilating sentence)?
I'm not arguing agaist them, I just think that there ought to be a better way.
 
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